India is famous for its black teas, which start from the Camellia Sinensis Assamica plant – a tea bush perfectly suited to the tropical climate and heavy rainfall of the Indian jungle. From fresh Darjeelings to malty Assams, the country produces a wide range of world-class teas. But despite boasting some of the finest pure black teas on the planet, one of India’s most well-known contributions to the North American tea world is a blend – masala chai.
What is masala chai?
In most parts of the world, the word “chai” simply means tea. But when people in North America (including us) use the word “chai,” we’re actually talking about masala chai (aka “spiced tea”). So what makes this spicy drink so comforting? It’s traditionally made with rich black tea, milk, sugar and, of course, tons of spices that not only invigorate the senses, but are packed with benefits. Here are five of the most popular feel-good spices used in chai.
- Bright, peppery and warming, this popular wonder root never fails to up the cozy factor of a classic masala chai. Plus it’s been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries to ward off cold weather and settle upset tummies.
- These exotic little pods are loved for their soothing flavours and aromas – from sweet, spicy and citrusy to floral and peppery, with hints of eucalyptus. What’s more, they’ve been hailed as a natural breath freshener and digestive aid – perfect after a heavy meal!
- Bring on the heat! Pepper’s sharp and spicy flavour is what makes rich, creamy chais extra warming during the fall and winter seasons. Plus it provides a lively zip and subtle pop of heat that never fail to get our taste buds tingling.
- This super spice is the epitome of comfort thanks to its delicate sweetness and warmth. Bonus: it’s also said to have natural skin-brightening and focus-enhancing powers. If that isn’t super, we don’t know what is.
- Cloves are like powerful little flavour bombs. They’re strong, sweet and slightly bitter, so when it comes to brewing the perfect cup of chai, a little goes a long way. Plus they’re known for their amazing soothing properties. No wonder we feel so relaxed after a cup!
Chai is a family tradition
You can find masala chai virtually everywhere in India and Pakistan. Many families have their own signature recipes, with ingredients varying from region to region, household to household. Masala chai recipes are so prized that families cherish them as a source of pride, passing them down through the generations as closely guarded secrets. Kind of like your grandma’s secret cookie recipe… which you still haven’t shared with us.
DIY masala chai recipe
Ready to whip up a mug of deliciously creamy chai? Here’s a quick and easy guide on how to make your own masala chai at home.
Our favourite chai teas
Don’t have the patience to make your own? Our chai teas are a quick and easy way to get your fix. Just steep, then top with frothed milk and a cozy dash of cinnamon.